BAYONNE, NJ-The Kaplan Cos. has won “conditional developer” status from the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority for a proposed project that would transform a 76-acre waterfront site into a $500 million mixed-use mini-city. The action follows an earlier move by the city council to designate the 76-acre tract as an area in need of redevelopment.

“The site has laid fallow for more than 10 years, generating only basic tax revenues,” says Nancy Kist, executive director of the BLRA. “Kaplan is proposing to add a significant ratable to the city’s tax base, creating a community that will be a great place to live and work.”

Texaco has owned the site for nearly a century, and Kaplan officials say they have an agreement with the company, now known as ChevronTexaco, to buy the land pending final approvals for the project. The “conditional developer” designation calls for a six-month window for Kaplan and the BLRA to iron out a formal redeveloper’s agreement.

And the approval process Kaplan faces includes environmental OKs from the New Jersey DEP and the US Army Corps of Engineers, site plan approval by the city planning board and water/sewer extension permits from the local utilities authority. A portion of the site, which wraps around the base of the Bayonne Bridge in the city’s Bergen Point section, needs environmental remediation, a process that Kaplan and ChevronTexaco say they have agreed to work on together.

“We are pleased that ChevronTexaco wants to cooperate in the redevelopment of this site,” Kist says.

The site plan, as outlined by Jason Kaplan, president of the Highland Park, NJ-based firm, calls for more than 1,300 residential units made up of stacked townhouses and multifamily condos and rentals in buildings ranging from five to seven stories. Also part of the proposal is 150,000 sf of retail space, 180,000 sf of offices, parking decks with a total of 4,200 spaces, a marina, public fishing pier and seven acres of parks.

“One of the best amenities will be the waterfront walkway,” Kaplan says. “Since 1907, Texaco had closed this waterfront parcel off to the public. We are reclaiming it for the people of Bayonne.”

And while the project has been characterized locally as a mini-city, the developer plans to, “create a grid of roadways that connect pre-existing streets in Bergen Point. It is important that this project be designed as a natural extension of the city, rather than as its own development,” Kaplan says. “The entire Bergen Point neighborhood is undergoing an incredible renaissance.”

Also in the works as part of the city’s larger redevelopment plan for the area is a ferry stop for regional ferry services already in operation. And local officials say they anticipate that the existing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system connecting neighboring Jersey City and Hoboken to be extended to the redevelopment area.

Kaplan is also no stranger to Bayonne. The company is currently developing The Waterford at Bayonne, a 145-unit apartment complex near the ChevronTexaco site.

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